Suspect ‘flees’ to Saudi Arabia as Dhaka begins war crimes trial

March 29th, 2010 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, March 29 IANS) The Bangladesh government has issued a travel alert after a senior leader of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), suspected of being involved in “war crimes”, left for Saudi Arabia unhindered.
The move came amid what media reports Monday called ‘confusion’ over the measures to hold back “war criminals”, a term used for those understood to have been involved in attacking or killing unarmed civilians during the 1971 freedom movement.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed and Home Minister Sahara Khatun expressed their disappointment over the incident and directed authorities to investigate it, The daily Star said citing unnamed government sources.

Questions are now being asked as to how Mir Kashem Ali managed not only to flee the country but to also use the airport’s VIP lounge, the newspaper said. Ali was Jamaat executive committee member.

National Security Intelligence (NSI) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) have prepared separate lists of alleged war criminals, which have been approved by the home ministry.

The newspaper quoted unnamed legal experts as saying that the War Crimes Tribunal, constituted last week, did not have the powers to restrain suspects from leaving the country.

The tribunal’s investigation agency chief, Abdul Matin, said that the law should be amended empowering the investigators to arrest any war crimes suspect, New Age newspaper reported.

Help of the Interpol would be sought if necessary, Home Minister Khatun said.

The tribunal began work Sunday, but it was not clear when it would take up individual cases of alleged atrocities against people by members of the Islamist militia 39 years ago.

Bangladesh says three million people perished in the freedom movement.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned of “confusions” being spread against the government’s moves and of “conspiracies”, but pledged that the trial would take place.

“There will be conspiracies as the trial proceedings have already started. But everyone has to be alert so that none can stop them,” she said.

The war criminals, she also said, now possessed thousands of crores of (Bangladesh’s currency) taka. They were now established, both politically and socially, she said.

Hasina said they would now try to create chaos in society so that the trial would not be held, newspaper web site reported.

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